Interfax: Missile defence is main problem in Russian-NATO relations – deputy minister
(Interfax – November 29, 2013) Missile defence is the main irritant in relations between the defence ministries of Russia and NATO member states, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Antonov has said, privately-owned Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN reported on 29 November.
“The prospects for cooperation between Russia and NATO are very great. If there was the political will from the other side, we would have made very serious progress in the area of international security,” Antonov said.
He added that missile defence in Europe remains the main problem in relations. “This problem is the main irritant not only in relations with NATO countries, but also the USA,” he said.
Antonov said that the other problem in relations with NATO is the alliance’s expansion policy. “We are watching closely the alliance’s ‘courting’ of Georgia, Ukraine, and see how they are watching Moldova,” he said.
“We cannot regard these advances towards our neighbours indifferently, because this directly affects issues of Russia’s national security,” he said.
Antonov also spoke about the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). “We have said repeatedly that, for us, this treaty is obsolete. In its time it was interesting but now it is not needed, based on the political and military realities, which we see on the European continent,” he said.
State news agency RIA Novosti, meanwhile, quoted Antonov as saying that China supports Russia’s concerns about the USA’s missile defence plans.
“The expansion of Russian-Chinese dialogue on missile defence is an important aspect. Our colleagues from China have the same concerns regarding the American global plans in the area of missile defence,” Antonov said.
Antonov also said that this year, under the strategic arms reduction treaty (START), Russia has checked all of the USA’s hardware, converted into non-nuclear arms. He added that Russia is satisfied with how the USA is fulfilling the conditions of the START treaty.